UPDATE: County says child care facility notified health department of positive case

Published 8:31 pm Thursday, July 23, 2020

SALISBURY — Following publication of the initial version of this story, county spokesperson TJ Brown told the Post Friday morning Cornerstone Child Development Center reported its positive COVID-19 case to local health officials.

The correction came after health officials on Thursday said the facility had not reported a positive case to the Rowan County Health Department. Brown added that a “communication gap” resulted in the case not being documented by health officials. That communication gap was discovered after the health department reached out to the child care center on Friday.

Jennifer Willis, office manager at the Cornerstone Child Development Center, confirmed Thursday one person had tested positive for COVID-19. She added that both state and local health department guidelines were followed after the facility was aware of the case. Willis would not elaborate on whether the positive case was a child or an employee and wouldn’t specify which of the five daycare center sites the case occurred. The childcare centers are operating as normal, she said.

State guidance requires facilities to immediately notify their local health department of any laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among children and staff. It’s a requirement that also appears in North Carolina General Statues.

The state uses data on COVID-19 cases to determine where outbreaks or clusters occur. In a child care or school setting, a COVID-19 cluster is a minimum of five cases within 14 days.

Willis said she was not closely involved with mitigating the positive case at one of the child care centers. When asked who else at the facility could provide more information on the positive case, she said no one would be available for the next few days.

Also on Thursday, the number of positive cases at congregate care facilities increased to 236. Brown confirmed two different congregate care facilities have seen five new cases among staff and residents. Brown said the names of those two facilities cannot yet be named as the initial investigation has not been completed. It’s likely that information can be released Friday, he said.

Those additional five cases, however, have been updated in the county’s COVID-19 data hub.

Currently, the data hub shows 15 employees and 37 residents at the N.C. State Veterans Home have tested positive as well as two employees at Elmcroft and six employees at the W. G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center Community Living Center.

On Thursday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the county amounted to 1,822. The number of currently positive cases grew by 10 on Thursday and now stands at 293. Recoveries continue to rise and are at 1,482, which is an increase of 18 from the previous day.

Deaths remained at 47, with all but 10 deaths from congregate care facilities. Three of those deaths not associated with a congregate care facility have occurred within the last two weeks.

A total of 10,259 tests have been reported to the county.

Two additional hospitalizations reported on Thursday bring the current total to 12. A total of 117 people have been hospitalized in the county, with an average age of 62.

While hospitalizations are reported each day, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and the the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center update the number of beds being used for COVID-19 patients once a week so the county can gauge hospital capacity. Thursday’s data showed a total of 50 beds are being used for COVID-19 patients and four ventilators are being used. The Salisbury VA often accepts veterans from other counties that don’t have VA hospitals, but they aren’t included in the county’s daily report of hospitalizations.

A total of 103 beds in the county are designated for positive patients, along with 61 ventilators.

Statewide, a total of 106,893 cases have been confirmed after 1.52 million completed tests. A total of 1,188 people are being hospitalized across the state and 1,726 people have died. The current rate of positive cases from tests is 9%.

On Tuesday, state health officials said a state partnership would result in 900,000 masks and infection control supplies being delivered to farmers and agriculture workers across the state. The effort is to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks among the agricultural workforce. However, Rowan County is not included in the 31 counties scheduled to receive the first delivery.

COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect Hispanic residents of Rowan County. Despite making up about 9% of the county’s population, they account for 29.31% of all positive cases, at 534.

A total of 980 white residents have tested positive for COVID-19 along with 229 Black residents, five American Indian/Alaskan Native residents, five Asian residents and one Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. A total of 356 are considered unknown and 246 are considered “other.”

The average age among cases dropped to 42 on Thursday, with most cases among those aged 18-35 — 586. Those aged 36-50 comprise 453 cases, while there are 313 cases among the 51-64 age group, 284 among those older than 65, and 186 for children younger than 18.

Women now comprise the majority of cases at 913, while men trail closely behind at 909.

A plurality of cases have been in zip code 28147, and are now up to 586. Zip code 28144 has had 404 cases, and 28146 has had 265 cases.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

Editor’s Note: Rowan County spokesperson TJ Brown reached out to the Post Friday morning and said Cornerstone Child Development Center did report the positive case to the Rowan County Health Department. A “communication gap” resulted in the case not being documented. The Post is seeking further information about the “communication gap.” This story was updated to correct the error at 11:15 a.m. on July 24, 2020.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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